Tobacco Plains Indian Band

Tobacco Plains Indian Band referenced throughout this article by their traditional name Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it.

The journey of Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it in moving from Capacity Development ‘only ‘ to Credit Enhancement has been one that has demonstrated a clear community commitment to strengthening at all levels including finance, governance, housing, lands, and community commitment. The story of Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it is an exciting one and a story to be shared.

Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi‘ it is part of the Ktunaxa Nation which is made up of four British Columbia bands and two United States bands.

The reserve is located in the Southeast region of B.C. (Grasmere, B.C.) which is 1 hour south of  Cranbrook and 10 minutes from the Canada/US Roosville Border Crossing.

Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it is made up of one reserve comprising 10,680 acres with four lakes located within its boundaries. Five per cent (5%) of the total land base is held by locates, Certificates of Possession (CP’s) and several lots are leased. Of the approximate 152 members, 50% live on reserve.

The governance structure includes a 5-member Council. Custom elections are held every two years with staggered terms of office of 4 years each. The Council meet bi-weekly with meetings open to  membership. First Nation businesses operate under the management of the Tobacco Plains  Development Corporation. A Chief Administrative Officer manages the day-to-day operations. The Administration has 21 employees along with seasonal employment. Community members also work in the nearby communities of Cranbrook, Fernie, and Elko.

In the seven (7) years since first partnering with the Fund, Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it has been determined to improve and strengthen their capacity at all levels of governance and  has achieved many of their goals. Many of the initiatives were undertaken with or without the Fund’s support. One consistent thread has been the commitment to engage and harness the wisdom and insight of their membership throughout this process.

Among the initiatives that Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it undertook on their own or in other partnerships, was the construction of a new multi-million dollar administration and community gathering place, completion of a new water reservoir, subdivision site servicing, a Finance Administration Law, Financial Management Board Certification, Human Resource Policy, incorporation of a new economic development company, Custom Election Code, a Comprehensive Community Plan, and a Housing Condition Assessment.

A notable initiative undertaken with the Fund’s support has been the strides made by Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi ‘it in its implementation of a rental program in 2013. The program addressed historical arrears in consultation with their membership and ensuring the full endorsement of the Council. Maintaining consistent rent collection, management, and accuracy of arrears has always been a priority. This program has demonstrated the community’s commitment to pay for and manage their housing.

Now having been approved to participate under the Fund’s Credit Enhancement Facility, Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi‘it intends to offer a loan program to its members that will support, over the next 5 years, the new construction of 18 housing units, including 10 homeownership and 8 rental units, and 10 renovation loans for either market rentals or private homeowners.

“Housing for membership has always been a top priority for the ?akanuxunik’? (the people) of Yaq̓it ʔa·knuqⱡi’ it (Tobacco Plains Indian Band). During this process we listened to membership’s concerns, we identified and removed some of the barriers that kept them from homeownership. Partnering and being approved by this Fund provides us with some tools that will help us assist members in acquiring homes, and hopefully encourage more members to move back to their lands.” – Nasukin Heidi Gravelle

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